Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal
Jonathon Swift assumes a few key ideas throughout A Modest Proposal. It is unquestionably assumed through the essay that anyone would be willing to give up and sell his child as nourishment. It is presumed that the reader would not hesitate to accept the ideas of cannibalism and barbarism. If this is not understood, it is hard to read the piece without bias.
I have found through careful reading that the illustration of the proposal is not just an instance of the heartlessness between humans, but of Ireland consuming itself, along with its people. The assumed value system of this piece deviates from traditional value, as the only important outcome is economically beneficial results. Going back to Swift’s assumptions, moral standards and personal feelings are not taken into consideration here. Strong irony is obviously prevalent in this piece, an example being Swift’s intolerance towards the quality of Ireland’s social system. It is suggested that the proposal will result in the feeding of the rich, causing more class disruption. Because of the nation’s despair, the proposal is written that people must not dwell on trivial notions of morality.
Swift’s apparent philosophy is revealed in the terms that he uses to describing humanity. He describes newborn children as “just drooped from its dam”, a demeaning phrase to many Irish citizens. The nonchalance of the context Swift uses to approach his plans could be appalling to many readers. Swift continues to classify women as “breeders”, and the citizens as “souls”, creating an image of humans without emotion, not contemplating humanity in relation to his proposal and writing.
By blaming many elements for the state of Ireland, Swift does not directly state his own opinion, his words inexhaustibly twisted with irony. Swift could be ambivalent to the causes of the unfortunate circumstances, while at the same time he could be writing smugly from an unarticulated point of view, causing the reader to question his motives.
Swift’s paradoxical judgement and explanations cause perplexity on the reader’s behalf, speculating at everything from his actual proposal, to his assumptions, to his actual opinion on Ireland and its situation.